I am one of those people that has been lucky enough to do what I love my entire career. Building a better world for all people, and specifically vulnerable children and youth, is what it is all about for me. I believe non-profit organizations play an indispensable leadership role in working with community members to create the kind of conditions in which children and youth thrive.
I have been a non-profit organization leader for my entire career, having created my first organization and community initiative for youth when I was 18 years old. Since then, most organizations I’ve worked with and led have also been youth serving organizations. The scope or service areas of the organizations have ranged from local/rural to local/urban to statewide to regional to national and international. As a leader I’ve had a range of responsibilities as well, including creating, growing, maintaining, sustaining, and even mercifully putting to rest organizations.
Today I continue to believe in the power of non-profit organizations as catalysts for social good. I am passionate about the role of non-profits to create sustainable social change and achieve the greater good through community engagement. Following this passion has been a life-long pursuit.
I do not believe I just “fell into” my life’s work. My work is my vocation and I believe I have been prepared in ways for it that are mostly outside my own awareness. Warren Bennis and Robert Thomas wrote a book that described leadership moments, or crucibles, that define lives and move people into their vocations. In years of “testing” their crucible theory through the stories of people I have met, I have concluded their theory is pretty much “spot on.” For me, my work is a calling.
What is that calling? It is to bring hope and caring to a struggling world through the nonprofit sector. This is why I choose to work with nonprofit organizations.
In 2005 I was lured from my native Iowa to the Washington, DC area by the invitation to work with an outstanding international non-profit organization. That organization allowed me to follow my passion for building strong, sophisticated, and sustainable non-profit organizations. For a little more than 7 years I was truly living a dream, but I stepped away on February 28, 2013 in order to devote full-time to my research and writing and to set up a consulting practice, Tom Klaus & Associates. My spouse and I live almost exactly halfway between downtown Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD. We have two miniature schnauzers that sleep 22 hours per day and go for walks during the remaining two. We are dedicated ballroom dancers though you won’t see us any time soon on “Dancing with the Stars” or in a competition near you. We dance strictly for fun, and it shows. However, we do a pretty mean cha cha.
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